We know that entrepreneurs are chomping at the bit to get cracking on their 2023 goals. One of the most common goals for entrepreneurs (and if it isn't on of yours, it should be!) is to book more speaking engagements. I sat down with Executive Director of the eWomenSpeakersNetwork, Toni Caruso, to learn why.
Nicole: Why is it important for entrepreneurs to pursue speaking opportunities?
Toni: As businesspeople we strive to be seen as an expert in our fields. We also want to be in front of potential clients to share our knowledge. What better way than to have a mic in your hand, stand on a stage in front of 20, 50 or even hundreds of ideal clients and share your message? Speaking has been shown to be the fastest way to build your business and your community. You will be seen as the “Expert & Authority” in your industry when you are in the front of the room.
Nicole: What should entrepreneurs who are just starting to speak have in their tool belt?
Toni: They need to understand who they are serving, why they are qualified to serve that audience and be able to share that message in a clear and concise way. Then get started on putting your Speaker One-Sheet together, having professional headshots taken, and get a really great 3-minute video of you speaking. Event planners have seconds to peruse you as a speaker when you apply, you need to catch their eye, show that you are professional, and that you are prepared to show up and knock it out of the park when you hit their stage.
Nicole: What should seasoned speakers be doing this year to break into the next level of speaking opportunities?
Toni: They need to make sure they have been keeping track of their previous speaking engagements. How long did you speak, how many people were in the room, what was your ROI (Return on Investment) from that opportunity? Once you know your number and are very honest about how you preformed, you will have a better view on what you need to move forward. If your conversion rate or ROI is low, you may need to change up your topic, your messaging or the offer is not clear enough. If your ROI is good but the audiences are not the size our quality you would like, you may need to rework your speaker applications so that you can stand out when applying to those larger stages. It’s a numbers game and there are specific items that can engage an event host and things that can turn them off. The stages are out there and your message needs to be heard, you just need to package yourself in a way that gets YOU noticed.
Nicole: As an event planner of 30+ years, what do you wish speakers knew or would do differently?
Toni: I wish they would understand that speaking is a business. Event planners have a job to do and a timeline to get it done. Great Speakers are Prepared Speakers. It is not about YOU, It is about what you bring to the EVENT. They need to understand the business, know the etiquette that is required, and understand that a deadline is a deadline. If we ask you for your picture, bio, intro, topic and title, have it ready to go and send it immediately. Don’t tell us that you are getting new pictures taken next week, or that you are working with a coach who is helping you readdress your topic and will send it later. We hired you from the video, picture and topic you sent us. Now is not the time to start changing things. You are not the only speaking we are working with and the harder it is to work with you, the less inclined we are to ask you back to do it again. No matter how great you are.
Nicole: Any last thoughts you'd like to share with our readers?
Toni: Yes, no matter who you are or what you do, you have something to share with the world. Speaking 1-1 or 1-Many, you are a speaker. It is a skill that you need to master, a story you need to tell and a message you need to share. Don’t want to be on a big stage? That’s OK. Your local chamber, your local rotary club and your local networking group all have opportunities for you to speak. Whether a 1-minute introduction, 5 minute business overview or a 10 minute talk where you give tips. You have a story to tell and if you do it right, your ideal client will seek you out to work with you. That’s the power that speaking brings. It’s time to step out and onto your next stage! It’s a game-changer.